Tour de Fresh Continues to Grow in Riders and Rides; John Lukasko of Fresh Produce Partners Receives Coveted Yellow Jersey
SANTA CRUZ, CA - There aren’t enough words to encompass what the Tour de Fresh brings to all sides of the industry, both professionally and personally. Today, the riders of the Tour de Fresh complete their circuit into Monterey, CA, to swap biking chamois for PMA Foodservice festivities and show planning.
Yesterday, on the second day of the ride, and after nearly 70 miles down the course, the cyclists stopped off to honor a few of its own. As I reported last year, the "yellow jersey" presentations, which give an opportunity to shine a light on some key moments of struggle and triumph that happen on the tour, also give me an amazing insight into the stories of these riders.
John Lukasko, Procurement Manager at Fresh Produce Partners, is one such individual with an amazing story. After riding in the premier Tour de Fresh, John took time off, in the words of DMA Solution’s Brock Nemecek and California Giant’s Cindy Jewell, to “kick cancer’s ass.”
After having succeeded in his battle, John is back and riding strong, encouraging his peers and fighting the battle for health in the future generation.
You’ve seen previously as well the story of John Frey, an active supporter and cheerleader in the Tour de Fresh who was not able to participate in the ride because of injuries he sustained when hit by car while training. Yet his face, on a stick, is being carried around as the Tsamma Watermelon team and riders for the Tour de Fresh bring him along and ensure he never misses a moment.
These stories, and more, create an atmosphere of a family reunion as we close in to the finish of the rapidly-growing ride.
This is the first time the Tour de Fresh is taking place in the summer, just nine months after it successfully raised $150,000 in the days leading up to the PMA Fresh Summit in Atlanta, GA.
“To see a steady increase in riders, sponsors, and more importantly a steady increase in fundraising, all these things point to the success of the Tour de Fresh vision of the future,” Anthony Gallino, Vice President of Sales at California Giant, tells me as we discuss the increasing reach of this important event.
When I ask C&S Director West Coast Produce Operations, Michael Deusebio about some of the highlights of this ride, and what he'd like to see more of, he recalls the second day arrival to the hotel and jumping directly into the pool.
"More pool parties!" he laughs. "Seriously though, when you suffer on a bike, (sometimes for hours), for days in a row, you form a bond with your fellow cyclists. It's something that you can't duplicate in your day to day life. The relationships you build on a bike are unparalleled, and to be doing this ride for a great cause is very special."
And it is increasing, both in quality and in quantity. Not only are returning faces bringing members to add to the program, but it has been announced that the Tour de Fresh will now have a one-day metric century event in October, a wholly new addition and opportunity in the event’s fight to push produce in schools.
“We are hoping this ride could be a model for future one-day events,” Brock Nemecek, Account Director at DMA Solutions, Inc. and an active organizer and rider for Tour de Fresh, announced at last night’s team dinner to excited ears.
More events should give further opportunities to execute the success the Tour de Fresh has demonstrated in its mission to provide salad bars for public schools, and gives more chances for interested industry members to see first hand what has these riders hooked.
AndNowUKnow will soon have more details on your next chance to promote fresh fruits and veggies in school. In the meantime, we are in the midst of the third and final leg of this amazing tour, and your window to help is closing. Every moment and every dollar counts as you help these impressive riders, your peers, reach their goal. To donate, please click here.